Thursday, April 3, 2014

An Expat's Review of WWOOF-CSA (Local Organic Produce in Korea)

As many of you know, I've become quite a "crunchy" person over the past few years. Crunchy in the "no slave labor save the world care for the children organic non-GMO sustainable agriculture love the least of these" kind of way. It's abso-fantastic-a-lutely wonderful. My seester has become equally (if not more) crunchy at the same time, and it's great that we can share tips and tricks with each other. If you've heard me talk about my recent obsession with oil pulling and all things coconut oil, that's all her doing. (Love you Stephanie!) This post is along those lines... 

Last month, I discovered that Korea has an organic coop that is foreigner friendly!!! It's called WWOOF-CSA. Check out the website here! It's all in English and ordering is very easy with a quick bank transfer at any ATM (which, for those of you not in Korea, is how almost all online ordering is done if you don't have a Korean credit card). I've been wanting to join a coop/CSA for ages, but I didn't know how I could do it in Korea. UNTIL NOW. It's amazing. It's brand-new. TELL EVERYONE!

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which is a program that a lot of people seek out to travel and experience life in different countries. One of the lovely people I met during my travels in Japan had just finished a month-or-so WWOOFing in northern Japan and was touring the rest of the country before she went home. My lovely (and crunchy) friend Naomi has WWOOFed in France. I also just like the fact that it sounds like "woof" and that makes me think of dogs, which makes me think of *my* dumb dog, which makes me smile. 

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. I didn't know that til this. 

As I mentioned, ordering is really easy online. There are a ton of different box options with different add-ins. I've got some details on them at the bottom of the post (just scroll down). They're about to change up the order system in the next few weeks, based on feedback from purchasers. This month, I ordered a basic "couples basket" for 1-2 people. I'm giving it a month's try, but so far I love it so much that I plan on ordering one of the bigger baskets later on! There are snacks and breads options that I'd like to get my hands on! 

My 2nd box came this week and I photographed the opening process to show y'all: 

Here is my box! It came straight to my building. Last week, I wasn't home when the delivery guy showed up, so he left it at the convenience store on the corner and texted me (in Korean) to pick it up there. 

Look y'all. It's like Christmas, but with veggies! 

Open the box: ooo look, a letter! 

Here's a letter from the CSA folks, telling a story about organic farming and explaining about a few structural changes to come in the next few weeks. Once a month they include a more detailed and colorful newsletter with recipes and stories. I got that one in my box last week. 

On the other side of the letter, there is a detailed list of all the produce in my box, including information about which farm each item came from. Isn't that great? Does your grocery store do that? AND invite you to visit said farm? 
Don't think so. Mine doesn't. 

This is super handy, cause a lot of them are Korean veggies that I'm unfamiliar with and thus never knew the names of before! This especially helps when I'm looking up new recipes for unfamiliar ingredients (like oyster mushrooms, below).

LOOK AT ALL THE FOODS!!! Look at that fun green stuff on top! 

Ooo what's in this bag?

Mmm garlic cloves! 

Oyster mushrooms! I have never cooked with these before, but getting them in my box made me eager to try out some recipes. I'll let you know if I do a good job with them ;) 

Sesame leaves. Not a big fan. Super bitter. Giving these away this week. 

6 eggs, all wrapped up and protected for the bumpy ride. 

200 grams of delicious organic strawberries, all wrapped up and protected for delivery to my doorstep. 



More lettuce! 

Bok choy! One of my *favorite* greens! 




Muddy organic carrots, straight from the farm! I LOVE that they're muddy. I feel more connected to my food, which kinda sounds crazy BUT IT IS ALSO AMAZING. These babies came straight out of the ground, where they were grown with no chemicals except the natural stuff that exists in dirt before people mess with it. YES. 

Muddy potatoes! Same farm-life sentiments as above. 

Now... where am I going to put all of it? I forgot that I was about to get a box so my fridge is still a little full of all the greens from last week, plus all the groceries I just bought this weekend, plus I have a tiny fridge to start with. Time to make a LOT of salad! share! Anyone want some lettuce? 

One of my favorite parts about my box is the extra encouragement to eat a very healthy diet at home. I don't want to waste all of this God-given goodness, so I need to cook a lot more at home, so I need to look up recipes (they've even got a couple on their site) and grow my skills with new ingredients. So exciting!! I can also juice a lot of the greens with apples and carrots and make delicious breakfast drinks with them. Oh sweet goodness, my mouth is watering just thinking about green juice! Mmmmmmmm. 

Again, the organization is called WWOOF-CSA. The website's right here. It's all in English, foreigner-friendly, and it's so easy to order. I highly recommend it! 

Here's some info from the WWOOF-CSA site

There are two main baskets that are sent out through the WWOOF CSA: the Couples Basket and the Family Basket. The Couples Basket contains 8-10 different items and is suitable for a 1-2 person household, whereas the Family Basket contains 10-12 different items and is suitable for a 2-4 person household. These two baskets both have a timeframe option of Month Share, Half Share and Full Share (1 month, 3 months and 6 months respectively). Vegan options are available for all baskets.

There is also a Taster Basket for those who would like to try a single box out before deciding to commit. The Taster Basket is available in both the Couples Basket size and the Family Basket size.

A Care & Share gift basket is available for those who would like to introduce friends and/or family to a healthier and more sustainable kitchen! This gift basket differs from the other WWOOF CSA baskets as they also contain seasonings, sauces and condiments in addition to the in-season produce.

AMAZING, right??? Not to mention, they call themselves the "farmily." How perfect is that? I love me some puns. I'm on cloud nine, you guys. 

Making good food choices WITH produce delivered to my doorstep (or convenience store around the block) AND supporting local organic farmers at the same time? YES PLEASE! 

PS... I'm a little excited about this new endeavor, can you tell? 

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